by Heidi Ashworth
Roses in the Miss Delacourt Series
It all begins when the Dowager Duchess of Marcross sends her grandson, Sir Anthony Crenshaw, to accompany her niece, Miss Ginny Delacourt, to their country estate to check on the roses. The Dowager is concerned since her neighbor is keen on stealing cuttings from her spectacular rose garden for Rosehaven, his rose-inspired country home. On the way, they have a carriage accident and are held up by highwaymen but it isn’t until they are quarantined at Rosehaven for the pox that Ginny’s and Sir Anthony’s love begins to bloom.
Thus the series begins…
a beautiful rose garden and each stop is showcasing one of her roses.
The regency is a time period full of drama and romance. Very much like the second decade of the 1900’s in America (think flappers and prohibition) its fashions, culture and sensibilities were vastly different from those just prior and just after. It was a period of transition in England, the only country which experienced “the regency” (this same time period is referred to as the “empire” period in France and was the tail end of the “colonial” era in America) and had its own fashions, (ankle-length muslin dresses were worn primarily during this time) language terms (what was known as a reticule in the regency was a pocketbook, bag or purse shortly thereafter) and what we would call fads (the rage for all things classical Greek in dress and furniture comes to mind).
It was an era created by the tastes of three men: George, the Prince Regent or “Prinny”, who reigned from 1811-1820 as regent during his father’s (George the III) illness, John Nash, an architect whose style dictated everything from buildings to furniture to fashions, and George, Lord Brummell (aka Beau Brummell) who is known for creating the simple and elegant black suit men still wear today.
The Regency was also a time of romance, one that was far looser in its customs and strictures than it was during the Georgian period just prior and the Victorian era right after. It has been said that the maid who followed her mistress wherever she went during the days of Victoria was a natural consequence of the less guarded regency period. Though a young man and woman were rarely allowed to be alone together prior to their marriage, it was much easier for them to slip under the radar and be together with none the wiser. Also, amongst the upper classes, marriages were far less likely to be arranged than they had been in the past and though the practical married for reasons of economics, land and class status, there were many who threw caution to the winds and married for far less prosaic reasons–such as love.
Above all, the Regency was a time period overly concerned with “appearances”. The true state of affairs did not matter nearly as much as how they appeared to those of society. If one could appear to be bored (it was unfashionable to be overtly enthusiastic about much of anything) well heeled, well-mannered, and well to do, it hardly mattered if, in reality, one was one oar shy from taking a trip down the River Tick. When the vile truth was discovered, many people found it preferable to put a period to their existence than to live a life of ostracization from society.
Mr. Colin Lloyd-Jones is faced with one such dilemma at the outset of Miss Armistead Makes Her Choice and decides to eschew going out in society for the time being. And then a beautiful young lady arrives in town and all of his common sense goes out the proverbial window.
Deciding what your hero and heroine look like can be a very complex process. One must choose what one feels is attractive according to one’s personal tastes but must be careful not to create a character that is so defined and strong that he or she won’t appeal to a large population of book readers. Depending on how many heroes and heroines one author must create, this can become increasingly complex. (To my chagrin I have found that I tend to favor dark haired heroes and heroines. I asked my husband why he thought that was and he did not hesitate to point out the obvious; he and I both are brunettes.) Once I created my ideal dark-haired hero and heroine and my ideal light haired hero and heroine, I have sometimes found it necessary to resort to pictures of real people to create my characters.
Though it is tempting to choose from pictures of famous people, I steer away from that. My characters are very real people to me and I simply can’t think of them as such if they look and (inevitably) behave like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Once I have decided the color of my characters’ eyes and hair, I spend time googling “men with brown hair and gray eyes” or “women with red hair and blue eyes”. It is rare that I find a photo of a person that exactly matches up with what I think he or she should look, however, I have had more luck with period paintings. Though a representation of a real person can never look like the people I imagine, I enjoy selecting illustrations of people who come close.
The header above depicts, from left to right, Miss Elizabeth Armistead and Mr. Colin Lloyd-Jones, (Miss Armistead Makes Her Choice) Miss Ginerva Delacourt (Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind/Has Her Day), Julian, Lord Trevelin (The Lord Who Sneered), Sir Anthony Crenshaw, (see Miss Ginerva Delacourt) and Harry, Lord Haversham and Miss Miranda Crenshaw (Lord Haversham Takes Command). It is true that, in my mind, my characters are more idealized and impossibly perfect, but these are the period paintings I could find that came closest. However, the beauty of a book is that the reader can create a person’s countenance and form to fit his or her idealized version of every character.
(This is the part where I make a confession as to who it is Colin Lloyd-Jones of Miss Armistead Makes Her Choice resembles: Once upon a time I met a young man with a Welsh surname who sported a pair of gorgeous gray eyes fringed with long dark lashes. His hair was somewhere between brown and black and it curled just a little around the edges. I found him incredibly attractive and committed his face to memory. At the time I had been married–to the love of my life!–for only a year. Shhhhh! . . my husband doesn’t know!)
Ebook, 274 pages
April 24th 2014 by Dunhaven Place Publishing
Mr. Colin Lloyd-Jones and his friend, Sir Anthony Crenshaw, make a pact to avoid the fair sex during the course of an entire season in order to nurse their wounded hearts. As they shake hands on it, they have no idea that one would soon be off on a trip to escort a young lady to the country and the other soon to fall head over heels in love with Miss Elizabeth Armistead. Sadly, Miss Armistead is only interested in those she trusts not to become so besotted with her beauty that they cannot see her true self. Prior to meeting Colin, she had only met one man fitting that description and she has promised to be his bride. However, Mr. Cruikshank is not due to arrive in London for a full month. Can Colin convince Miss Armistead that he loves her for more than her beauty before her betrothed’s ship arrives on British shores?
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